Petition is successful with 9,506 signatures
To: Herefordshire Council
Save Herefordshire's Libraries
Update 14/05/15: This campaign was a success! This campaign stopped the library closure after the petition was presented at a full council meeting. Well done to everyone who was involved - together we did it!
Calling on Herefordshire Council to reconsider cutting Herefordshire's library and museum budget, reducing opening hours and replacing staff with volunteers; and the denigration of services previously provided, for instance inter-library lending. Volunteer run libraries can not provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it, as required by the Public Libraries and Museum's Act.
Following the initial success, we are well aware the battle is not yet over as the impact assessment forms produced by HCC are a complete travesty, along with consultation guides which still include the original proposal in disguise. This battle continues .... so please keep signing.
Why is this important?
The amazing response to this campaign forced the Tory led cabinet to bring this issue to a full council meeting on the 24th May. A little victory in itself.
Hereford Times reports: ' New budget plan passes with a commitment to discuss a referendum on the 2014-15 budget. Proposed savings in the 2013-14 budget plans withdrawn from the recommendations. Service areas safe for now.'
With the warning of Councillor Terry James ringing in our ears against the backdrop of the Tory leader's unprecedented arrogance we are not so convinced of that summation, given the behaviour of a Tory cabinet bent on having their way. The modified campaign continues until further notice, so please keep the petition going up. Subsequent recent developments have confirmed our scepticism of that summation.
Volunteers can assist, but not run libraries or museums. For example it requires 18 volunteers to keep Peterchurch Library open for 10 hours per week. Further denigration of services, for instance the cancellation of inter-library lending, have since been introduced without consultation, continuing the secrecy operated by the council cabinet. Illegal under the 1964 act.
We apparently have three Turner paintings in the county ... do you think these paintings that belong to us the people should be sold off into the hands of private enterprise? We don't!
Many people, of all ages and from all backgrounds, are adversely affected when a local library is closed:
• As well as a place from which to borrow books, the local library provides information and free ICT. It’s a place to meet friends and join social activities such as, reading groups, bounce & rhyme sessions, storytelling sessions etc.
• Children need libraries to support their literacy and reading development. The library also provides them with a place to study, with staff that can help them with their homework.The Summer Reading Challenge ensures that children continue to develop their reading skills during the long summer break.
• There are many people, especially the elderly, and those living alone, who value the opportunity offered by the library and its staff, for conversation and companionship.
• The local library is a place where vulnerable members of the community feel safe and receive support.
• There are very few indoor, public spaces which are warm and welcoming, where one can linger without spending money.
• People visit the local library if they need help; for example with form filling, letter writing, using ICT, or when they need information that they are unable to find elsewhere. There are still large numbers of people who do not have access to IT, other than in their local library.
• Job seekers, make use of the library’s ICT to look for and apply for jobs; they also borrow books on job seeking techniques, writing CVs, interview skills etc., and books to help them improve their work based skills. An economic downturn is the worst time to close libraries.
• When Universal Credit is introduced applications will have to be made online, those without computers at home will need to make use of ICT in their local library.
• Many visitors to the county use the libraries for tourist information; they also value the ICT for communicating with friends and family back home and for printing airline, coach and train tickets for their return journeys.
• The provision of ‘Books on Prescription’ supports the work of the health service.
• Researchers in, Family and Local History rely on the library to provide them with the relevant source materials.
Following the initial success, we are well aware the campaign is not yet over as the impact assessment forms 2013/14 were a complete travesty, along with consultation guides which still included the original proposal in disguise, They chose the path of least resistance, hardly legal, in choosing death by a thousand cuts over time.
With this new set of consultation forms 2014/15 released, no sign of the full council meeting and referendum, and the sideways shunt of the cabinet spokesman responsible for these services, a continued threat is already in place. Leave them in no doubt of the importance of these services. Go to https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/budget2014 and tell them they have a legal duty to maintain a comprehensive service not a cut down one.
This campaign continues .... so please keep signing and sharing.
How it will be delivered
The preliminary petition, containing over 8500 signatures, was delivered in person to Herefordshire Council on the 24th May, when they were considering the original proposed cuts. There are still major budget cuts in the pipeline, for our cultural services, so please continue sharing and getting more signatures on this petition, so that we we can present the even more numbers to further council meetings.